Trina Turk Celebrates 10 Years of Retail in Northern California

Los Angeles designer Trina Turk opened her first store in 2002 with a location in Palm Springs, Calif.

That 5,000-square-foot store is still going strong, but another emporium is proving to be just as vibrant. This week, Turk celebrated the 10th anniversary of her store in Burlingame, Calif., a well-to-do suburb some 15 miles south of San Francisco and not far from Silicon Valley.

Even though retail has changed drastically in the last 10 years, Turk said the secret ingredient for the Burlingame store is still excellent customer service. “In retail today it is all about developing a personal relationship with the customer,” she said. “I think that is what has been keeping us going for 10 years.”

The customers who frequent the Burlingame store are between the ages of 30 and 60 and are mostly professional women involved in their communities’ philanthropic activities.

The store’s merchandise is tailored to that particular demographic and differs in some categories from the other 12 stores in the Trina Turk chain. “All our customers gravitate toward print and color. That is what we do. They can easily find black, navy and khaki at other stores, although we offer that as well,” she said.

Turk, who started her high-end clothing company in 1995, is not launching any new stores right away, but she is testing locations through one-year leases.

These new stores don’t quite qualify as a pop-up, but they don’t lock her company into a long-term commitment before necessary. “We are definitely experimenting with shorter-term leases and treating the stores more like pop-up shops before we sign a long-term lease,” Turk said. “Landlords are definitely willing to discuss that option. In the past they have not been interested in that idea.”

Another focus is to concentrate more on e-commerce and omni-channel offerings. “Our web business and our store business are separate, which is not ideal,” the designer said. “We have noticed that people sort of preview things on the website and then go into the store and know what they are looking for or vice versa.”

As her 25th anniversary nears, Turk is also expanding her licensed products, working with The Jay Companies to develop outdoor-living products such as melamine tableware and acrylic glassware; gifts, home fragrances, keepsake boxes and picture frames; and tabletop items such as plates, glassware, tablecloths and napkins.